slack radio 4-0 makeover

If someone asks you what a good streaming music service is, who do you recommend? Pandora? Rdio? Spotify? What about Slacker Radio? Yeah, despite the fact that the company has been around for 6 years, Slacker rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as the others.

But it’s looking to change that. Yesterday, Slacker Radio essentially relaunched itself as a brand—touting complete redesigns of its web and mobile clients. The new iPhone app looks particularly sharp, with a revamped visual interface and new Slacker “Music Guide” feature…

Here’s the release notes for Slacker version 4.0 from the App Store:

“This version of Slacker Radio is all-new for iPhone and iPod, featuring a new visual interface and the debut of the Slacker “Music Guide”. Slacker listeners will discover more music, news, talk and sports than ever before. Look for the visual tile layout to view station, artist, album and song pages and enjoy improved functionality and overall stability as you experience the most complete music service available.”

The new UI is a major improvement over the previous version—it’s kind of reminiscent of Microsoft’s ‘Metro’ tile-based interface. Unfortunately, good looks don’t always translate into functionality. I found the app to be better looking than Pandora, but harder to navigate.

The core aspect of Slacker is still a free, customizable music streaming service with ads and song skip limits. But for $3.99 a month, the Radio Plus package gets rid of both restrictions, and a $9.99 per month option adds Spotify-like offline music and custom playlist features.

So will Slacker Radio’s fresh coat of paint make you want to switch over from Pandora or Rdio? Probably not. But it’s good enough that it’s probably worth the 5 or 10 minutes it’d take you to check it out. As always, you can find the Slacker iPhone app in the App Store.

What do you think of the new Slacker Radio?